Mexican military wants new airport in Mexico City to allow cabotage flights

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The Mexican army, administrator of the Felipe Angeles International Airport (NLU), wants this hub to be open to international airlines wishing to operate domestic services within Mexico. This practice is called cabotage, and it is rarely allowed around the world.


Authorize cabotage in Mexico?

Cabotage is the right or privilege to allow foreign airlines to operate scheduled air services between two points in the territory of the granting State. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there are two types of cabotage in the air transport sector, consecutive cabotage and autonomous cabotage, also known as eighth and ninth freedoms of the airrespectively.

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Historically, Mexico has never allowed cabotage of any kind, as most countries do, so as to protect the interests and autonomy of local carriers. Nevertheless, the Mexican military may seek to change that by allowing the practice at the recently opened Felipe Ángeles airport north of Mexico City.

A view of the new airport in Mexico City.

Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.

In an interview with Forbes, NLU Chief Executive General Isidoro Pastor Román said Mexico’s airline industry may be able to compete without any restrictions. Nevertheless, he added that if cabotage were to be approved, it would only be allowed at Felipe Ángeles airport. NLU currently has over 200 flights per week and had only 300,000 passengers between March and September 2022.

The idea of ​​allowing cabotage in Mexico was first introduced by the Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a few weeks ago. During his daily press conference, Mr. López Obrador said:

“It’s democracy. Let foreign airlines come from Europe and the United States so that they can operate flights within the country.

A view of the new airport in Mexico City.

Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.

Only NLU would have cabotage

Isidoro Pastor said allowing cabotage from Felipe Angeles International Airport would not harm the Mexican airline industry. He said that, if approved, cabotage would only be allowed from NLU, meaning Mexico’s remaining 77 commercial airports would remain closed to international operators.

“Cabotage (flights) could depart from NLU to any destination in the republic. All this is linked to functionality, interest and above all to the market study carried out by the international airline that may be interested in it. Mr. Pasteur Roman added.

So far, no international airline has expressed interest in operating cabotage flights from Mexico’s newest international airport.

A view of the new airport in Mexico City.

Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.

NLU at 25% capacity

The idea of ​​allowing international airlines into NLU is to increase the number of daily operations at the airport. The Felipe Ángeles International is currently at 25% of its daily capacity (or approximately 40,000 passengers per day). On October 29, the hub received 8,025 passengers.

As of November 2022, NLU had 203 weekly flights operated by six carriers (AeromexicoArajet, Conviasa, Copa Airlines, Viva Aerobusand Volaris). Aeromexico operates the most flights per week, with 105. This means the airline has 13,449 seats available weekly from NLU.

The airport currently only has three international routes. Conviasa flies from Caracas (CCS), Arajet from Santo Domingo (SDQ) and Copa Airlines from Panama City (PTY).

Do you think the Mexican government should allow cabotage at its new flagship international airport Felipe Ángeles? Why? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Forbes.

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